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Two Churches: Stephens City United Methodist Church and Orrick Chapel



John Wesley was an English theologian and evangelist, who led a revival movement within the Church of England known as Methodism. The separation of the American colonies from England in 1783 led John Wesley to plan for the ordination of his own ministers. Until 1784 the Methodists were a society within the Church of England and not an independent communion. It was the American Revolution that made a separate organization unavoidable. Wesley responded to the shortage of priests in the American colonies due to the American Revolutionary War by ordaining preachers for America with the power to administer the sacraments. This was a major reason for Methodism’s final split from the Church of England after Wesley’s death in 1791.

In 1784 at the Christmas Conference in Baltimore, the “Methodist Episcopal Church in the United States” was formed and Francis Asbury was consecrated one of its two superintendents. Six months before this, Asbury had preached here in Stephens City for the first time. Following this, according to Asbury’s Journal, he had come back sixteen or more times. But on his first visit, he had been far from pleased with the “society” in Newtown (Stephens City). He wrote: “I raged and threatened the people.” But the next time he came, in August 1790, the tone was different. “Here,” he wrote, “They have built a spacious chapel.”  Again, in April 1810, he wrote, “I preached at Newtown; we were crowded.” This is a flourishing little place, and we have a beautiful little chapel.”

In 1802, Market Street Methodist Church in Winchester, assigned to the Baltimore Conference, reported 280 White and 128 Black members. By 1830, there were 731 White and 225 Black members. Eventually, a small brick chapel called Cork Street Methodist Church was built around 1844 by Market Street for the [colored] people and was in good order and free from debt. Later in 1857, a larger all brick church with gas lighting was established by the African-American members of the Market Street Church on the same site. The church was called John Mann Methodist Episcopal Church, named after John Mann who was known as the founder of Methodism to African-Americans of Winchester. At this time free Blacks in Virginia and throughout the South followed local regulations which required white supervision regarding black meetings and black preaching. John Mann, who pastored his own church on South Loudoun Street, apparently took responsibility for providing the required supervision.

In Stephens City, early converts to Methodism most likely included African-Americans. When Bishop Asbury preached in Winchester in the mid-1780s, he noted the presence of both Whites and Blacks among those who came to hear his sermons. African-Americans, both male and female, began their adoption of Methodism as soon as it was made available to them and were an early and integral part of the Methodist movement. From the late 18th century through the early 19th century, it has been acknowledged that African-American Methodists in Stephens City worshiped with Whites at Stephensburg Methodist Church on the west side of Main Street between Filbert and Locust Streets. African-Americans were attracted to Methodism and they typically formed the most religiously fervent segment of any congregation. Seating arrangements in the first log church (built in 1789) are undocumented but at some point, after the brick church was built in 1827, African-American members were assigned to the “end gallery” of the church. The new sanctuary building reflected the growth of the congregation but also a change in attitudes of the nationwide Methodist Church.

By the 1820s, middle-and upper-class families began representing a greater percentage of the congregation instead of African-American and working-class whites and the church evolved from a radical sect to a more mainstream denomination. Methodists did not originally require people to have a formal education in order to preach the Gospel but soon thereafter established colleges to train ministers. The Methodist Church began assigning resident pastors to congregations instead of itinerant preachers. In 1830 the Stephens City Methodist Church was assigned its first resident pastors, Francis Macartney and William Edmond. Many Methodists began solidifying their support of slavery and the right to determine local policy. These deviations in society lessened the feeling of social equality among loyal African-American Methodists.

It can be surmised that African-American Methodists continued to share the brick church in Stephens City with White Methodists until the 1850s when pro-slavery sentiment was growing stronger just prior to the Civil War. Records reflect that by 1858 African-American Methodists had use a separate house of worship on Mulberry Street but they remained under the supervision of the local White Stephens City Methodists. In 1858, the lot on which the church resided was owned by Gustavus Adolphus and Elizabeth White. The Whites may have rented or loaned the building to the White Methodist congregation. In 1860, John W. F. Allemong purchased the lot and then quickly sold a smaller portion of the lot to four White church trustees who were clergymen and preached at Market Street Methodist Church and Stephens City Methodist Church. The deed required the trustees to maintain the building with a stipulation that it must be used as a house of worship for members of the Methodist Episcopal Church (MEC) of the Baltimore Conference.

During the Civil War, in the fall of 1864, Union Troops supposedly dismantled the church and used the lumber to build winter quarters at Camp Russell just north of town. In 1866, Stephens City Methodist Church left the MEC and joined the MEC, South and the property reverted back to the previous owner. Allemong then resold the empty lot to five trustees from an independent African-American congregation. Sometime between 1866 and 1869, a new church was built largely through the efforts and generosity of Winchester philanthropist Mr. Robert Orrick. Orrick was an ex-slave, noted minister, evangelist, prosperous businessman, and real estate investor. Orrick became a member of the Market Street Methodist Church and in 1861 the church issued him a license to preach. During the entire Civil War, the Methodist Episcopal Church in Winchester continually renewed Rev Orrick’s certification for preaching to African-American Methodists in Frederick County. After the war, in 1866, Orrick apparently transferred membership to the John Mann Methodist Episcopal Church (MEC).

Orrick recognized the church was part of an intricate social and economic support system that sustained African-Americans in Stephens City who had to endure racial discrimination and limited ability to participate in the civil and political life of the society and state. Orrick hauled construction material to the site and contributed both time and treasure for the erection of the new chapel in Stephens City on Mulberry Street. In recognition of his contributions, the church was named Orrick Chapel. The origins of the Orrick Chapel congregation in Stephens City lie with African-Americans who converted to Methodism in the late 18th and early 19th centuries and were once members of Stephen City Methodist Church. The white framed, green-roofed, Orrick Chapel still stands on Mulberry Street, just one block from the Stephens City United Methodist Church (SCUMC).

After President Lincoln issued the final Emancipation Proclamation (1863), Stephens City African-American  Methodists withdrew from the white churches in order to achieve the freedom and authority they had been deprived of since the early 1800s. Yet as the 19th century drew to a close, the white leadership of the Methodist Episcopal Church increasingly sanctioned racial segregation as a form of discrimination, a process that culminated with the imposition of racial segregation on Methodist congregations in 1936.

During the 1936 General Conference, A Plan of Union emerged that would eventually segregate African-Americans into the Central Conference and place Whites in the General Conference. However, the national church continued to discuss and debate race relations within the church. In 1968 the Central Conference that administered the African-American congregations and the General Conference that administered the white congregations merged. The April 1968 merger that created The United Methodist Church not only birthed a new denomination; it abolished a painful part of Methodist history. This new Methodist denomination began to require integration throughout the United States.

Now the difficulty of assigning pastors to the small African-American churches that could not afford a full-time pastor at that time led to SCUMC and Orrick Chapel eventually being served by the same pastor in 1971. Orrick Chapel United Methodist Church became part of a charge with SCUMC, which was then led by Rev Warren L. Reeves. After 1971, Reeves was the pastor of both Orrick Chapel and SCUMC. A plaque in Orrick Chapel honors Reeves, who remained pastor until 1977.

Due to dwindling membership, Orrick Chapel merged with SCUMC on April 1, 1991. The small number of remaining members once again began worshipping with the SCUMC congregation under the leadership of Rev Waverly G. Reames.  In 1993, the Orrick Chapel property was transferred to the Stone House Foundation, an organization dedicated to the preservation of historic resources in Stephens City. The Foundation was generously endowed by a good and faithful member of SCUMC, Miss Mildred Lee Grove. The 70-seat chapel is currently undergoing a historically sensitive interior renovation.

In the late 18th century, Methodists held out the promise of racial equality but rescinded that promise in the early 19th century, enacting racial segregation and limiting opportunities for Black Methodist preachers. The 1968 formation of the United Methodist Church marked the beginning of a broad movement toward an attempt to establish church unity. The merger of the Orrick Chapel with the Stephens City UMC in 1991 is an indication of this late 20th-century development.

In 2003, the SCUMC 1966 educational wing was demolished to make room for an improved, completely accessible, 19,000 square foot addition. To honor Rev Robert Orrick and the Orrick Chapel congregation, the SCUMC Church Council dedicated the new educational wing as Orrick Chapel Fellowship Hall.

SCUMC and Orrick Chapel’s history reflects the evolution of American Methodists’ attitudes towards culture and race over a period of 200 years. Records indicate that both Whites and Blacks in Frederick County, VA worshipped together in 1790 and two hundred years later, Whites and African-Americans from SCUMC and Orrick Chapel began worshipping together again. Rev Reames experienced this notable unification.


1987 Stephens City United Methodist Church Directory cover page. Contributed by Pam Barley


Orrick Chapel Plaques honoring Rev Warren L. Reeves and various church members. Bottom plaque reads, “In honor of Mary B. Washington by Orrick Chapel Church.” Courtesy Stone House Foundation.

Conclusion: Because Pentecost celebrates the outpouring of the Holy Spirit from heaven on human flesh, Pentecost is a season of evangelism and outreach, as Christians become empowered to proclaim the gospel of the risen Christ to all people on earth. At the Feast of Pentecost, the Holy Spirit overpowered the barriers of culture and race for now all believers in Christ Jesus were emboldened to go out into the world and become His witnesses. Many believe it was Holy Spirit intervention that held the newly formed United Methodist Church accountable in its commitment to reject the sin of racism in every aspect of the life of the church.

Note: Reference sources of information on the early years of the African-American Methodism is “The Market Street UMC: Methodism in Winchester, Virginia, 1772 to 1953, a history,” dated 1985, by Mary Katherine Kern, “History of Orrick Chapel Methodist Church in Stephens City, Virginia,” prepared by History Matters LLC, dated 2006 and “A Will to Choose, The Origins of African-American Methodism,” by J. Gordon Melton, dated 2007.

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How a fence can increase the value of your property



Installing a new fence around your home has many benefits, including increasing the value of your property and making it more attractive to future buyers. Here’s why.

• It delineates your property. A fence visually outlines your property to give potential buyers an exact idea of the size of your yard. Remember to always double-check your property lines before installing a fence.

• It increases curb appeal. You can increase your home’s curb appeal by installing a decorative wooden or wrought-iron fence. A well-placed fence can also block unsightly views.

• It adds privacy. If you want to create a visual barrier around your home, a fence is a great way to shield your yard from the gaze of strangers.

• It improves security and safety. Installing a fence keeps would-be thieves and vandals out of your yard and home. Enclosing your yard with a fence can also help keep young children and pets from escaping into the street. Safety and security are significant features when selling a home.

Lastly, always opt for professional installation to avoid future problems and hassles. Additionally, invest in regular maintenance and repairs to ensure your fence looks and performs its best for years to come.

Fencing tips
Make sure you purchase fence materials that are of high quality and attractive. For example, wood, vinyl, and ornamental iron fences are more beautiful than chain-link fences. However, keep in mind that they’re more expensive and require more maintenance.

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Enjoy (sort of) the Orb Weaver in August



Here you are enjoying your late summer walk through the woods when, eww, you walk right into a spider web.

The web is everywhere! Is the spider on you? Yuck!

It’s not your imagination that spider webs are everywhere in August into September and even October if the weather is warm. That’s the time when many spiders weave their webs, especially the large Orb Weaver, a spider of extraordinary art and grace.

Their complicated, many-layer webs are a work to behold. The spiders themselves are not dangerous, and they won’t bite you. The spiders can be pretty brave. It’s a game for country children to find Orb Weaver on the web and tap his yellow back, making him bounce on the web.

The webs can sometimes be enormous, more than three feet in diameter, yet weirdly invisible. To best admire the web, take a hike after a rain, and you’ll see the droplets glistening on the complicated web. The rain brings out vegetation and insects, and the Orb Weavers will be out in force, spinning to net their prey.

Orb Weavers are part of the Araneidae family, a large group of spiders with many colors and shapes. The daytime Orbs are brightly colored with orange or yellow patterns on black. The spiders you see weaving their webs in the fall are females.

The spokes of the web are roads for the spider to crawl on, but the loops of the web are covered in a sticky substance that is perfect for catching insects. It can also catch small birds. Gardeners have seen birds the size of sparrows caught haplessly in the Orb Weavers web.

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Micro-volunteering: Be someone’s eyes for two minutes



Here is a fantastic way to help people wherever you are, whenever you have the time — by micro-volunteering.

Be My Eyes is an app that connects sighted people to the blind. Using video calling technology, volunteers can answer simple questions that require a pair of eyes.

Hans Jorgen Wiberg, a Danish furniture craftsman who is visually impaired, realized that blind and low-vision people often needed help with everyday tasks. He also knew that video calling was already being used by the blind. They typically called friends and family by video for help with simple questions like What is in this can? What is the expiration date on this food? Is this a red or a black sweater? Being able to easily get answers to these simple questions offers a lot of independence.

The problem is that regular helpers are not always available, and there is the issue of wearing out one’s welcome. What Wiberg realized was that the world was full of people who could help at times. So in 2012, he launched his Be My Eyes startup to connect people with volunteers from across the globe.

Today, nearly 6 million volunteers help with questions from about a half million blind and low-vision people. The app is available in 150 countries and 180 languages.

Anonymous sighted volunteers can take a call whenever they have time. They can pass if they don’t have time, and another volunteer gets the call. Meanwhile, anonymous users can ask simple and fast questions.

Be My Eyes has also started ramping up specialized support. One of the top areas is tech support, which sometimes requires knowledge as much as sight. Microsoft, Google, and others are helping to solve issues like broken screen readers or setting up email accounts.

But there is also support for more personal, sensitive questions that the caller may not want to ask a family member: The results of a pregnancy test or fertility test, for example. The Clearblue Careline can step in to help privately in those cases.

Pasta maker Barilla uses the app to help with pasta questions. And Rite Aid pharmacy answers questions about prescriptions and helps people read medicine bottles.

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4 clever tips for organizing your locker



Back to school means getting a new locker, especially in high school. If you’re a student, here are four suggestions to help you organize your locker.

1. Choose sturdy accessories. Use sturdy storage containers you don’t have to replace every year. This way, you’ll stay organized and won’t have to spend money on new ones next year.

2. Buy shelves. Some shelves are designed to hang from the permanent shelf in your locker. You can also get ones made of fabric, which have extra pockets on the sides to maximize storage. Additionally, metal or plastic ones can be placed in the bottom of the locker to keep your bags separate from your boots and shoes.

3. Maximize door usage. Magnetic accessories are extremely practical. For example, you can use baskets to organize pencils and other small objects. A dry-erase board or magnets can help you keep important notes like appointment times and exam schedules in sight.

4. Arrange supplies wisely. Keep binders for each subject in alphabetical order to find what you need at a glance. Keep the matching textbooks nearby to save time before class.

Visit your local shops to stock up on everything you need.

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There’s a song in your heart! Sing it out!



It’s Saturday night, and a guy who calls himself Mr. Charley is belting out Frank Sinatra tune, telling us, “That’s Life.”

After Mr. Charley sits down, a young woman with purple hair gets up to sing an Adele song.

She’s followed by a lady yodeling, “I Wanna be a Cowboy’s Sweetheart” — it is so unexpected and well done that the crowd goes wild.

Welcome to Karaoke. If you have a song in your heart, you can sing it out. Or, you can just be a fan.

In every city and every burg, there is someplace you can sing along to your favorite tunes — or watch someone else do it. There are good and bad singers, familiar tunes and some you forgot or never knew. Regulars fans get to know the singers and each other. It is like a weekly social event.

If you haven’t been to karaoke, you can search online for events in your area. Smaller venues, usually bars, have a more intimate audience. Bigger venues tend to attract better singers but can be more impersonal. Show up early to get the best seats. When the show starts, applaud every singer and give newbies encouragement.

If you want to try out your vocals, practice at home first. Rehearse a high-energy song and a slower song. The later it gets, the less likely that a long, slow ballad will be appreciated. You can listen and practice your songs on sites such as Sunfly or Ameritz.

You will give your name and song to the karaoke DJ when you get to the venue. These days, most every song is available, but in some cases, the choice can be limited to songs listed in a book.

When you are called to the front, sing with confidence, and when finished, go immediately to your seat. Making a speech to the audience or lingering up front is frowned upon.

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Love deserves a bit of work



People sometimes feel that they have lost control of their relationships, either following the birth of a child or simply because time has passed. Therefore, it’s very important to take the time, as a couple, to stop for a few minutes to discuss the situation. Investing in your relationship can only bring positive results.

Establish your priorities first. You should both make a list of what is essential to your happiness and the things on which you refuse to compromise. Then specify what would be a bonus to your well-being. When you know exactly what you want, you can sit down together and discuss what improvements can be made.

Keep in mind that in a couple, one party should never have to sacrifice themselves for the benefit of the other, nor feel a need to demean the other to enhance their own image. Maintaining the three fundamental basics of a strong relationship is vital: You, your partner, and your couple. These three different entities each have their reasons for existing. Everyone has his or her own individuality, and your relationship has its own personality. It is important, therefore, to maintain your own distinctiveness and not let the other rub off on you.

When a problem becomes apparent, instead of blaming your partner, first look at yourself. People often accuse others of being something they are themselves. The term for this is projection. Couples should always avoid engaging in this type of behavior.

Finally, don’t hesitate to meet with a mediator or a marriage counselor. They have the necessary expertise to help you find concrete solutions.

You should never be afraid of investing in a relationship to help it be happy and successful. Take the necessary time and make use of available resources.

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